Memory foam products becoming more popular for mattresses, and the internet shopping slowly replacing traditional store shopping has led many people to ask how foam products get to where they need to go. Because of the hefty dimensions of large products like mattresses, people may cringe at what they imagine the cost of shipping such a large item may be. Fortunately, foam manufacturers have perfected ways of packaging foam as economically as possible. One style, typically used for bulk orders by major manufacturers, is tightly rolling with heavy machinery. The other method, and the one used more often on individual purchases like mattresses or pillows, is vacuum packing.
Vacuum packing is one of those rare things that is as simple as it sounds. The item to be shipped is attached to a vacuum that sucks air from the sealed package, drastically reducing its size. The reason this works so well is because the majority of foam filling is air. And with all the cells in open-cell foam being interconnected, in a vacuum sealed bag, you can quickly shrink a product down in size.
While it may seem like it would take quite a powerful machine to attain the compression foam needs to economically ship, many companies don’t need a vacuum any more complicated or powerful than a simple shop vacuum. Once the form is reduced by as much as 75 percent, it is sealed, wrapped, packaged, and sent on its way in the most cost-effective way possible.
The uses for protected and secure foam-filled briefcases go far beyond what we’re typically shown in movies. Few people need to keep an easily assembled, silenced pistol in a briefcase for their job as an international secret agent, and not many of us are transporting gems and jewels for a gig as a mining tycoon. Polyethylene foam packaging cases have plenty of real-world applications though, that can apply to people in nearly any walk of life.
A specialized case, packed with custom-cut shipping foam, isolates an item from impact, and prevents its movement within the case, whether alone or sharing the case with other components. One of the most popular uses for foam insert cases is in photography, as costly camera equipment and spare lenses need to be kept safe while getting to where you plan to shoot. The hard shells of these cases do a good job protecting against the elements and external dangers, and the interior foam design stabilizes and absorbs shock.
And while you may not be an agent, you may still be a hunter or a marksman who wants to ensure the safety of your firearms. These cases are made to be locked, keeping their contents secure. Padded security cases are important items in the scientific community as well. Many experiments and tests require on-site measurements and calculations, which requires delicate and expensive instruments having to be transported to the location. Custom shapes carved into the foam will hold every part and component in place, preventing damage and making it easy to get all the necessary data back to the lab.
Even on a smaller scale, students and professionals can use this kind of casing to protect their computers and electronics. For these situations, as well as for the previously mentioned testing equipment, foam inserts are also made in anti-static formulations to help prevent the invisible buildup and damaging transfer of electro-static energy into components.
Man-made sponges are a unique product, modeled after one of nature’s most interesting creations. Many people would be surprised to learn natural sponges are not plants, but animals, albeit the simplest ones on the planet. Their bodies, if they can be called that, are designed to pass water, filtering the nutrients they need to survive. This design, when removed from the water, makes them very absorbent, and is what our synthetic sponges also achieve.
Made of polyurethane absorbing foam, sponges hold water and soap for cleaning, dishes, and bathing. They have enough abrasiveness to remove grit and dirt without scratching or damaging skin, dishes or surfaces. Many cleaning sponges also have an abrasive scouring pad attached to one side of the polyurethane shaped foam to give extra cleaning ability for difficult stains or marks.
Sponges aren’t all work however, and many are made into fun foam shapes that children enjoy in the pool, in the bath, or for crafts. Their absorbent nature makes them interesting and helpful learning tools, and they are soft without sharp edges. Dipped in ink or paint, foam sponges can also be used for stamping and arts and crafts.
Sponges offer many DIY uses around the house as well. Putting bars of soap on a sponge pad in the bathroom keeps the soap dry, helping it last longer. Wrapped around shovels and rakes, they can offer a pressure-relieving pad for sore hands. No matter where they’re used, sponges bring a unique set of characteristics to help do their jobs better than any other product.
Our comfort and support preferences are all individually unique, and no matter how similar two people are, every person has something about them that makes them different. Despite this, mattresses are still seen by many as a one-size-fits-all product, with hard or soft as the only options.
Running contrary to the cookie-cutter approach most traditional mattress companies take, foam mattresses and foam bed pad toppers are products that can be mixed, matched, and combined to create a personal sleeping experience tailored to the individual.
The layering of a mattress takes the approach of building your comfort in steps. For some people, a mattress for beds may be perfect in one big slab, just like traditional mattresses work for some people. But by layering, you can build toward your perfect level of comfort and support, one section at a time. Foam for bed layering is cut into sheets usually only a couple inches thick. Based on how tall an individual wants their mattress, they add layers on as they go until they reach their height. Firmer pieces are often at the bottom, as layered mattresses often are made to have softer layers at the sleep surface.
Multiple materials can be combined in a layer mattress too. Perhaps varying firmnesses of conventional foam rest under a memory foam top layer. A latex core can be used under any other type of material for a firm base. Or you can sandwich one feel between two other layers to get a bed that’s a combination of both. What’s more, layering rarely requires sheets be glued together, so if you find you’re not crazy about your setup, you can shuffle layers as well. Simply put, for your own individual sleep needs, an individualized layered mattress is the right choice.
If you’ve ever ordered something through the mail or purchased a fragile item, you’ve run across foam packaging inserts. Whether they’re the rigid, white polystyrene variety, or squishy charcoal foam, it is wise to keep these materials around as extra foam for packaging, even after you’ve decided you won’t need to return the product they originally protected.
The simplest way to reuse foam packing is to use it as packaging again in something you need to mail. If you’re sending something to a relative or friend or returning a product for repair or work, it’s always smart to protect it as best possible. Often times a product’s original packaging has been thrown away long ago, so we use one that’s “close enough.” Stuffing a makeshift package with soft, polyurethane foam can keep it secure and help absorb impact.
Packaging peanuts are the least-liked packaging material, but even these have some in-home uses. Packaging peanuts can be used as spacers behind pictures to protect the wall and are also helpful for holding a nail in place too, when you begin to hammer.
Firmer open-cell packing materials meanwhile, can also serve an acoustical purpose. When paired with a non-resonant piece of MDF wood for a stand, firm charcoal foam can be used under speakers and subwoofers as a decoupling product, isolating the speaker from the floor. This can reduce the vibrations transmitted through the room, which can be causing annoying rattles and buzzing as small items vibrate along with the frequencies. It can also give your speakers and woofers a clearer sound and lift them to a better listening position. If you’ve got loads of packaging foam and you don’t know what to do with it, try out these ideas and any others you may think of for a more practical approach than simply just throwing it away.
Most conventional foams operate just like a sponge, absorbing and holding water. This is a major drawback in situations where the comfort of foam is wanted in damp or marine environments. Water held within a conventional foam form, like custom outdoor cushions, can cause the material to rot, mold and mildew, essentially ruining the product. Luckily, a special type of foam exists that is designed exclusively for marine or outdoor uses: fast dying foam.
Also known as dryfast foam, this product is the perfect material for a custom boat mattress or patio cushions. Made with incredibly large pores, dryfast has an almost wiry appearance that you can see right into. Conventional foams feature cells fractions of that size that you can barely identify unless looking very closely. This wide-open cellular structure allows water to pass and drain through the form, rather than be retained like traditional materials. The ability of water to drain through the foam means air also can easily pass through the foam, quickly drying the material, giving you a durable and water resistant cushioning material, especially when covered in a breathable covering fabric.
Dryfast foam is also treated to be antimicrobial, a very important factor for things like a boat mattress that may get wet but doesn’t have the ability to dry like outdoor products do. Even aiming a fan at a dampened dryfast foam cushion can help dry it out.
Despite the massive cells, quick-drying foam is durable and supportive, so your boat cushions or seating pads won’t wear out under you. If you have comfort needs in damp environments, quick-drying foam is just what you want.
Whether you use it to stay warm on a winter’s night or use it to help unwind after a hard day’s work on a cool summer evening, hot tubs can be enjoyed year round. It takes effort to ensure they stay at temperature however, and the more a machine has to work to keep water at temperature, the more energy is used. To keep hot tubs at peak efficiency, they feature insulating toppers that trap warmth and keep the water clean. Due to the demanding nature of the job, these covers are almost exclusively made from a polystyrene core.
Polystyrene has many valuable traits that lend it to use in hot tub covers, but the greatest is its insulation capacity. This closed-cell foam has a strong R-value, a measure of thermal insulation, keeping the water warmer. The greater density of foam, the better its insulating ability as well. Polystyrene’s structure is also water-resistant and won’t easily absorb moisture or vapors. Because of the nature of the job, all covers will eventually need to be replaced at some point, but polystyrene offers one of the best returns on investment, given its functionality and longevity.
Polystyrene foam is also surprisingly easy to customize. Using hot wire cutters, foam manufacturers can cut replacement cushions to nearly any size or shape, very important for replacing the covers on custom-built hot tubs. Getting foam cut to order for hot tub cover replacement can be as easy as locating a manufacturer or fabricator and giving them the dimensions of your tub. When installed and maintained properly, a polystyrene hot tub cover will offer you years of energy saving efficiency and relaxing enjoyment.
Do you love to relax on your patio or deck furniture but hate the mad scramble to bring them in the second it looks like it might rain? Have you experienced trouble finding the material for your boat cushions so they don’t get rotten and waterlogged? For these situations and many more, there exists a porous, quick-drying, antimicrobial foam that is often referred to as “dryfast foam.”
Foam for patio cushions needs to be able to handle the elements. Conventional foam absorbs water like a sponge and can be next to impossible to dry when wet. Once wet, conventional cushions quickly mold and rot, turning into something nobody wants to sit on. Fast-drying foam cushions outdoor and marine seats with a wide-celled, reticulated structure, designed to permit the flow of moisture and air to drain and dry quickly. While traditional foam cells barely measure a fraction of a millimeter, quick-drying foam has cells that are three, four or even five millimeters wide. That may not seem like much, but it is more than adequate to let the cushion drain water and dry by air.
Many of these fast-drying materials feature antimicrobial compounds in their structure so if anything is preventing air from drying the cushion, like a wet bathing suit or towel, there’s no worry over the cushion rotting. When covered in a breathable outdoor fabric, a foam cut to size cushion can be left out during a storm and won’t get waterlogged in a damp marine environment. If you need outdoor cushioning that is comfortable but durable, fast-drying foam is the foam for the job.
Whether you enjoy a quiet cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning, sunning during the day by the pool, or unwinding on a cool summer evening, patio furniture can give you some of your most relaxing and enjoyable moments throughout the day. All patio furniture is not created the same however, and rigid surfaces covered with low-quality materials or worn-out furniture furnishings can force you back inside on even the nicest days due to discomfort.
A material designed to be used outdoors, featuring a self-drying cellular structure, is the perfect material for a patio furniture cushion, and that exists in the form of dry-fast foam. Water drains through the material and air is able to pass through and help dry the cushion. When covered in an aerating fabric such as Phifertex or Sunbrella Cushions, they can be left outside in all conditions, with the only real upkeep being an occasional rinse with a hose. If you want to maximize your outdoor enjoyment, selecting patio furniture that meets the same comfort requirements as your living room furniture is vital.
When we sit on the couch in our living room, the comfort is noticeable because we’re only focused on one or two things, with the primary goal being comfortable relaxation. On the patio or in the yard we’re grilling, keeping an eye on the kids and pets, tossing around the ball and getting in and out of the pool. When we’re finally able to whittle down our responsibilities is when we finally sit down to relax and take note of the chair’s comfort. Selecting high quality padding materials that can hold up to use without being uncomfortable, all while resisting the elements, is what will make that moment a relaxing one instead of a disappointment.
During the dog days of summer, there are few things as inviting as going for a refreshing dip in the pool, lake, river or ocean. And whether you have a beachfront property or go to the public pool, there are plenty of water toys and accessories that can make a day on the water even more enjoyable.
The most ubiquitous of all water and pool accessories is the noodle. These foam rubber cylinder creations are fun for flotation and games. Typically made of polyethylene closed-cell foam, these tubes have a smooth outer surface that covers an interior that is non-absorbent and very buoyant. Made in many colors, these tubes can have almost limitless lengths and diameters as well. Some come with hollow cores and others are solid, but their only limit is the imagination of the user*.
If you are a parent looking to keep a watchful eye on children or simply prefer to relax near the pool but not in it, getting the right outdoor patio cushions is essential. A cheap, woven lawn chair or a sticky, plastic chaise lounger is going to get uncomfortable quickly, cutting down on the time you spend at the water. The answer to that is to outfit your seating with the perfect outdoor furniture cushion. The smartest way do this is with fast-drying outdoor foam, but any material can be used if enough precaution is taken to avoid damaging it. Cushions can be made for loungers, wicker chairs and outdoor benches that will provide you with the comfort you get on your couch inside. No matter where you go to cool off in the summer, there are plenty of ways to have fun and make it even more relaxing.
*Foam noodles are not intended to be used as a life-saving flotation device. They are exclusively recreational products.